[P4512] Queens, Ghosts, Damsels and Modernity's Distress - Novels and History in Arab and Ottoman Societies

Created by Orit Bashkin
Sunday, 11/20/16 2:00pm


The historical novel assumed great popularity in the Middle East during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Works of translation as well as works of romantic and gothic fiction about faraway places provided much information about, and concepts relating to, history, golden ages, and the passing of time. Our interdisciplinary panel, which includes scholars of literature and history, tries to contextualize both the themes conveyed in, and the popularity of, these novels, and offer new ways to think about Ottoman and Arab modernity and the Nahda movement through their reading and analysis. We will reflect about how these historical novels and novels about history echo, but also create, new ideas about political theory, minorities in multiethnic empires, and the need to come to terms with colonialism, especially in Egypt after 1882. We will explore female protagonists, queens, princesses and virtuous damsels, to rethink gender relations and new ideas about the medieval and the modern family. Our panel will likewise explore the intellectual and cultural world of the writers of these novels, and how their works engage in projects of translation and hermeneutics, as well as the manners in which these authors both accepted, and challenged, Orientalist images of Muslim societies in the past and in the present. Notions of race will likewise be discussed in several papers, as we attempt to illustrate how racial categories affected the creation of characters in the novels. Finally, we will consider notions of temporality, or how such texts constructed and reconstructed notions of rise and decline, golden ages, and mythical pasts. We will examine how the novels intertwined themes from, and referenced, medieval chronicles and poetry collections, as well as popular genres and stories such as The Arabian Nights. Matters of diffusion and reception of these texts, and their serialization in the press, will shed light on their readership and their popularity. We hope to attract to our panel historians of the medieval and the modern Middle East, as well as literary scholars interested in the relationships between modern and medieval genres.





Orit Bashkin

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Esra Tasdelen

(College of Dupage)
A native of Istanbul, Turkey, Esra Tasdelen received her B.A. degree in Social and Political Sciences at Sabanci University in 2003. She received her M.A. degree in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Chicago in 2005 and her Ph.D degree in Near...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Ghenwa Hayek

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;